To Get Your Team Brainstorming Great Ideas, Start With Crazy
Would you rather have a great idea or a crazy one for your next business?
Many people go for the normal. Their ways of solving problems are the normal ways.
Are you this kind of a person?
Whereas there is nothing wrong with this, if your team is to stand out, you need a better strategy. Great ideas are what everyone is having.
So to be unique, you’re better off coming up with a crazy idea instead.
Moreover, oftentimes you get less than what you aim for. To get to the roof, you may need to aim for the sky. That way, you’re likely to get somewhere above the roof.
And if all goes well, to the actual sky.
The businesses which look for great ideas find out that others have great or greater ideas. To beat them all, aim for the extra. Aim for the crazy.
WHY CRAZY IDEAS ARE GREAT
Crazy ideas are indeed the way to get started.
Many successful businesses started with crazy ideas. Right now, those businesses are not seen as crazy because we’ve gotten used to them.
But when they were launching, they were indeed crazy.
- Who would have believed that phones—originally meant to be just calling and texting devices—could have cameras? That was a crazy idea from Philippe Kahn.
- Who would have believed that smartphones could have no keypad? That was a crazy idea from IBM back in 1992.
- Who would have thought that cars could be 100% electric? That was a crazy idea from Thomas Parker.
Aren’t these the ideas which catapulted businesses to the global scene?
Here are a few reasons why you need crazy ideas. You should even encourage your team members to specifically come up with such.
Solve Stubborn Problems
Do you have a problem which refuses to go away? The kind which despite all your efforts still persists?
You might be in need of a crazy idea.
You have used all the traditional methods of thinking and problem solving. You have consulted widely but still can’t get it out of your way. It is time to take the unconventional route.
One of the best things about brainstorming is that you get many different ideas. Those ideas point to one thing: the different perspectives through which a problem can be solved.
However, if all you do is follow the same old path of thinking, you’ll end up with a new idea which looks like the old one you previously implemented.
A crazy idea works like a knockout punch in a boxing match. It comes out of nowhere, completely unexpected and delivers the required results.
Improve Team Morale
Crazy is fun. That’s why people love crazy comedians.
When a crazy idea is received and implemented, there will be a big difference in your work culture. You will have a vibrant work environment and everyone will be upbeat.
It is like working on a fun project which you’re all passionate about.
With an improved morale, one thing will be guaranteed: productivity.
Productivity is never highest when people are all serious with their work.
When people are talking, sharing light moments and are genuinely comfortable in their workplace, that’s when productivity happens.
When your team is working on a crazy idea, they will enjoy the work. They will do it with zeal as they wait to see the end result.
Another reason to ask for crazy ideas is that they attract customers.
Whether you have loyal customers or are looking to gain a foothold in a crowded market, try one crazy idea.
The results will amaze you. Then you can try another one and have this as your habit.
Crazy removes boredom. Crazy is always fresh and customers are looking for something fresh.
If you check social media, you will see proof of this all over.
The blogs which have the craziest of stories have the most readership.
Think of satirical news sites, blogs specializing in memes, artists who comment on politics using cartoons etc. The way these people convey their messages makes people follow them.
And their content is shared widely.
When you develop a solution from a crazy idea, it will attract a lot of attention. That attention will generate leads for you.
The more leads you have, the more likely your conversions will be high. All you’ll need to do is ensure even the marketing of the solution is crazy.
Teamwork is a common word. It is spoken of widely and businesses are encouraged to cultivate it. As necessary as it is, it’s not an easy thing to cultivate.
With all the personality differences and obvious character flaws in people, building a great team is a big project.
But you can make it easier when you make your brainstorming sessions open to crazy ideas.
When team members know that they are allowed to openly give ideas, they will eagerly embrace one another. It will be easy for them to embrace ideas since it’s a forum open for fun.
As they let go of unnecessary formalities, ideas will freely flow and they’ll become more open to one another.
This openness is what will encourage better teamwork.
Imagine a team consisting of an accounts intern, the inventory manager, the office messenger and the CEO.
These four have been randomly picked to form a team playing against another during a team building exercise.
Such a team is likely to be beaten unless the work environment encourages an open communication policy.
If such a policy is at work and these individuals have openly and freely interacted before, then they stand a chance.
When you have a brainstorming session that’s open and free, interactions happen. Everyone gets to learn the light side of others and mutual respect and love develop. If anything can strongly bond a team together, it is these virtues.
Reduce Cost of Labor
Now, this is important, especially if you are a hiring manager or any hiring decision maker. Anyone in finance will also love this bit as they are wired to work towards the least of expenses.
One of the reasons marketing is not easy for startups and SMEs, is because it is generally expensive.
And much of that expense comes with hiring a new and more experienced marketing manager. She comes in with lots of expertise and every month goes home with lots of money.
Whereas there’s nothing wrong with this arrangement if the new and expensive hire is delivering results, the extra expense can be avoided. Or at least postponed for the moment.
If you embrace and develop crazy ideas until they are finished solutions ready for the masses, you will prove this.
Get your team to set its eyes and mind on crazy ideas.
You will be better off with them than with a new employee intended to deliver great results.
And with the higher pay, how sure are you that she will be warmly embraced?
Make Business Stand Out
The last reason we’ll look at is an obvious one. As your crazy solutions attract customers, your business will stand out from the crowd. This is a natural result.
For this however, you have to be consistent with your ideas.
Do not solve a problem in a crazy and fun way today then revert to old ways tomorrow.
Once your customers get to expect crazy from you, you will have to be consistent.
If you lack consistency, that will be a problem. You can be thought of as one who merely stole the initial idea from someone else.
But if you do it over and over, it becomes your identity. It will be what everyone knows about you.
HOW TO BRAINSTORM CRAZY IDEAS
Indeed crazy ideas come with a lot of benefits. But they don’t just come. Those ideas have to be drawn out.
Drawing out crazy ideas from your team during brainstorming sessions is something you need to work on.
It will not happen just because you have asked them to come up with such. You have to set the right atmosphere for it and welcome your team for the session.
To help you achieve this, follow the below five steps.
1. Create the right environment for all team members.
Every member of your team is capable of giving you crazy ideas.
From the outgoing always-jovial members to the quiet introvert. In fact, the introvert may surprise you by what he has.
As the leader, it is important to note that there should be a balance between flexibility and structure. If the session is open for everyone to simply shout out their ideas, it will work against the introverts.
They will not only lack an opportunity to make suggestions, they will actually dislike the whole session.
To avoid that, you need to create a conducive environment in which they too will appreciate the process.
The best way is to put some structure into the process which the whole session will follow. In practice, you can split this into two:
1. Private time – assuming that you communicated about the brainstorming session, have everyone come with writing material. Alternatively, you can provide a pen and a writing pad for everyone attending.
Crazy ideas flow when people are in a less formal setting. So let them feel that this is not a formal meeting.
Where possible, consider taking your team outside the office building. The outside environment is a good influence to creative thinking.
Start off the session by allowing everyone to say something about the day and their expectation of the session.
This will help loosen them up to be free to think openly.
After this, describe the problem at hand and ask your team how they would solve it. Everyone should write down their ideas.
2. Public time – depending on the time you have decided to allocate for the whole session, set appropriate time for the private time. As everyone writes what they think is the best way to solve the problem, keep an eye on the time. Crazy ideas don’t need a lot of time to be generated.
Public time should be the phase where everyone gets to share their ideas and explain how they will work. It is crucial that everyone speaks. If your team is big, set enough time to avoid rushing people to conclude.
To avoid using up too much time however, you can limit the number of ideas everyone shares. This can be any number.
With a small team, you can have all ideas shared. If you limit the ideas, let your team mark the ones they choose. They can use an asterisk or underline them.
This will help you as you follow up on those ideas later.
When you plan the session in this manner, you will provide everyone with some level of comfort.
Introverts are good at expressing themselves in private and so you will get their ideas in their writing.
As for the extroverts, despite the writing session not being their favorite, they will gladly come up with a list.
And after that, they will even more gladly talk about their ideas. It will be a win-win for every team member.
2. Ask for crazy ideas.
As a team leader, you want a great solution to the problem at hand. You understand that crazy ideas end up being the greatest. You have created an environment that is fit for creativity. What next?
Do you just let your team members come up with suggestions?
That may give you good results but not the best.
To get the best out of them, you need to tell them exactly what you want. Remember that they can’t read your mind.
The same way you gave them a picture of the problem, now be specific about the kind of solution you’re looking for.
Many times, members follow what they think their leader wants. As a smart leader, you should tell the group where they’re headed, tell them how to walk the path then go ahead of them.
Take a few minutes and share some weird suggestions. Even funny ones if you have them. Show them that you’re not only looking for ideas, but want the unconventional. It is the unconventional that will sell.
Share with them your strategy. Tell them how you want to take the market by storm. Then help them understand that you can only do that if you take a unique solution to the market.
This way, you will get them thinking. And their thinking will not be limited to traditional serious business-like methods. They will think well beyond the norm.
Remember, brainstorming is all about lateral thinking—thinking from all angles.
3. Do not criticize any ideas.
After their private time is over and they start sharing their ideas, be careful not to criticize any of them.
This is not the time to critically analyze ideas and rank them in terms of perceived strength.
The brainstorming session is only to gather as many ideas as possible.
Keep in mind that crazy ideas are just that—crazy. They rarely make logical sense. What you intend to do with them is develop them till they become unique solutions.
As a leader, you have to know how to communicate properly, especially when provided with what you didn’t expect.
Furthermore, criticizing any idea is like destroying the foundation you have just set up.
Seeking crazy ideas through brainstorming should be part of your culture. If you are starting it now, you should be careful to ensure the trend continues. Your team members should expect it.
They should know that any time they receive communication about brainstorming, they are going to have fun. They will exercise their imagination and share it with others. They will also get an opportunity to hear what others have to offer.
Just keep in mind that you have different kinds of people in your team. This will help you exercise caution with your words.
Otherwise, the introverts you created an enabling environment for, might forever remain silent.
4. Engage your team throughout the solution development process.
This stage is key and it’s what will show your team that you actually value them and their input. If you just ask for ideas and then disappear with them, you may seem to be using your team members.
Ensure the full process involves your whole team. Of course you cannot have everyone involved in every stage of solution development.
But what you can do, is ensure that everyone stays updated.
Go through the original ideas later, either alone or with your assistant. From there, let the team know which idea(s) is/are being implemented.
You can even call for status update meetings. Inform your team which ideas have been selected and where the process is at.
This will show them that they are indeed part of the team. This helps them embrace the final product and sell it as their own.
5. Celebrate final solution as a team.
Once the final product is out, let the team know. Let them test it if that’s possible. Let them interact with the work of their minds and the fruit of their labor.
If you start from a crazy idea and follow it up accordingly, the end result will be nothing short of great. The solution will definitely be an attention-grabbing one.
So hail the solution as iconic—because it really is. Speak of it well and acknowledge the whole team for their contribution.
Reward the person who came up with the original idea but don’t forget the rest of the team.
As the originator of the idea gets a big reward, you can have a small party to celebrate the whole team.
Since you cannot go wrong with crazy ideas, let your team get used to this process. Let them know that they are unique in that they come up with ideas which are different.
This is how you will stand out. Not only will you be envied by the competition, but your customers will also love you and stick to you. Just remember to be consistent.
Life follows the same routine circle — get a high school degree, find a comfortable desk job, build …